India-Australia Brisbane Test in doubt as players mourn Phil Hughes
Shattered Australian players comforted each other Friday as they considered how to move forward after the death of Phillip Hughes, with a decision on next week's Test with India on ice
Shattered Australian players comforted each other Friday as they considered how to move forward after the death of Phillip Hughes, with a decision on next week's Test with India on ice.
The cricket world was plunged into mourning when the talented left-hander died Thursday after being knocked unconscious by a ball in a domestic Sheffield Shield game in Sydney this week, sparking an outpouring of sympathy and support.
The entire Test team was summoned to the Sydney Cricket Ground and emotions were raw.
Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke and Cricket Australia doctor Peter Brukner leave SCG where the Australian team has gathered following the death of batsman Phillip Hughes. Photo: AFP
"I suppose the starting point is they are grieving, and they've lost someone that is incredibly close to them," Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland told a media conference.
"I think there is enough that we understand about grieving processes to know that it's really important to give people time, and people will respond in different ways to what they're going through.
"Six or seven days is not a long time, but right now with where we all are, it seems like a million miles away," he added, referring to the opening Test in Brisbane which is due to start next Thursday.
There are growing fears that the game will be called off with the players in no fit state. It remains unclear when Hughes' funeral will take place.
Four of those named in the Test squad -- David Warner, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Nathan Lyon -- were on the field when Hughes collapsed after being hit at the base of the skull by a Sean Abbott delivery.
Captain Michael Clarke was a close friend of the stylish left-hander and was at his bedside almost continuously, supporting the player's family. "I know everyone wants to know about cricket and when it goes on and what's happening," said Sutherland.
"We all love cricket and no one loved cricket more than Phillip. Cricket will go on and it will go on when we're ready."
- Extraordinary circumstances -
India's tour game against a Cricket Australia XI due to start in Adelaide on Friday has already been cancelled.
Sutherland said the Board of Control for Cricket in India's "understanding and empathy has been absolutely outstanding".
"They understand that these are unique and extraordinary circumstances and I guess both teams will have, if a Test match goes ahead, both teams will have a very different preparation," he said.
This compares to their reaction when the West Indies last month abandoned a tour of India over an internal pay dispute.
India retaliated by cancelling a tour scheduled for February and March 2016 to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international.
The BCCI, one of the richest bodies in world cricket, also said it would "initiate legal proceedings". Some estimates put the BCCI's losses on that tour at US$65 million.
Australian high performance manager Pat Howard said health professionals including team doctor Peter Brukner and John Orchard, who kept Hughes alive before ambulances arrived on Tuesday, were with the players to help them cope.
"What we're focused on is today, we've brought the whole team in, the Australian Test team are here, and today is about grieving, about dealing with the questions," he said.
"I think in regards to anything that we do, we need to make sure the players are in a position where they can make strong choices and that's not now, it's not this time."
Doctors said Hughes died after his vertebral artery split when hit by the ball, leading to massive bleeding in his brain. It was a freak injury with only 100 cases ever reported and only one known incident as a result of a cricket ball.
Abbott, 22, was also being supported with the bowler said to be "broken" but holding up well given the circumstances.